Power BI is a set of Microsoft’s business intelligence (BI) technologies that includes several tightly integrated software and Microsoft-hosted components. (Components are discussed in “Power BI Components”.) This report covers updates and roadmap details for Power BI clients used to view and interact with reports.
Users access and interact with reports and the hosting platforms using a variety of clients. The clients all include interactive features like filtering and drill-down, and some provide limited report design capabilities, although most designers will rely on other tools.
Not all clients can be used with every report hosting platform and report type. Therefore, the decision on which client to use is not an end-user choice, but rather it is determined by the hosting platform and report types the organization chooses. A full analysis appears in “Choosing a Power BI Platform” on page 34 of the May 2019 Update.
Power BI clients include the following:
Power BI portal is a Web application that enables users to access and interact with reports in Power BI hosted services. The portal is the most robust client, as it offers access to features only available in the Power BI online service, such as natural language query and dashboards for organizing reports into logical groups. The portal also includes report creation capabilities that are a subset of those found in the report design tools.
Mobile applications are available for Android and iOS devices with most of the same features of the portal, but they are designed for a smaller screen and they lack the ability to create and publish reports.
A Windows 10 application is similar to the Power BI mobile applications, offering viewing and interactive features in a Universal Windows Platform (UWP) application for Windows 10 devices.
SharePoint Online and Teams sites in Office 365 can host Power BI content with most of the interactive features of viewing reports found in the Power BI portal.
SQL Server Reporting Manager is the traditional SQL Server Reporting Services client used by organizations for sharing RDL format reports. Reporting Manager can display Power BI (.pbix) reports hosted on Power BI Report Server.
Web-site hosting (internal and external) can be used to share content with some limitations and varying degrees of security controls.
Line-of-business applications can embed Power BI online content directly in the application user interface, which allows developers to use Power BI report design tools and select Power BI hosted services as an integrated reporting solution.
Power BI Portal
The Power BI portal has recently received the following improvements:
A new Home screen (also available for mobile applications) is designed for enterprise users. It simplifies the organization of large volumes of reports that are typical in organizations and includes features for tagging favorites, saving filter settings, and performing global searches across a Power BI deployment to help locate data and reports. (See the illustration “Power BI Portal”.)
Report commenting allows Power BI users to log and share comments, such as questions and findings. Report commenting can include @mentions (which reference individuals) and push notifications to users (via e-mail and in mobile applications) when they are being referenced or queried.
Machine learning capabilities perform statistical processes on data and provide suggestions to help users make sense of data. The features present the user with possible forms of analysis and recommendations on what the data can be used for to help with the analysis process.
Updates expected in late 2019 or later include additional machine learning capabilities and the ability to customize tiles to show key metrics that are based on filtered content.
Power BI mobile applications receive the following:
· External user support, using Azure Active Directory B2B, for organizations that want to share reports with affiliates and partners while maintaining access control
· Access to Power BI report (.pbix) files hosted on-premises in Power BI Report Server, for customers controlling reports on-premises
· Siri integration for iOS device users to locate and open Power BI content
· Access to a mobile version of the new enterprise Home screen.
Future updates will include support for viewing paginated (RDL format) reports and additional user productivity features like simplified management of buttons, slicers, and filtering settings. Other updates will introduce report commenting (described above) and orientation controls for tablet users to make better use of a larger screen size.
Windows 10 Application
The Power BI Windows 10 application has few new features, but a recent update adds a presentation mode similar to PowerPoint’s presentation mode that expands the report or dashboard to full screen and hides all menus and application components. For example, this mode could be used to present daily production performance on shop-floor displays.
Power BI is covered in the Microsoft 365 Roadmap at https://www.directionsonmicrosoft.com/roadmap/ref/power-bi.
Power BI platforms are discussed in “Choosing a Power BI Platform” on page 34 of the May 2019 Update.
Recent updates to Power BI are discussed in “Power BI Updates Deliver More Enterprise Features” on page 3 of the Apr. 2019 Update.
This article was originally posted to Directions on Microsoft and written by Andrew Snodgrass on July 13, 2019.
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